Conversion Table

By Linh Dinh b. 1963 Linh Dinh
A stick of carrot is equal to a gillyflower.
A gillyflower is equal to a drum of gasoline.
A drum of gasoline is equal to a stick of carrot.
“For the sake of my offspring, I think I’ll marry an outsider.”
 
Tamerlane has been sighted in Northern Italy.
Jesus has broken out in Inner Mongolia.
They like to kiss outside and piss inside.
We like to kiss inside and piss outside.
 
A mosquito has a mouth but no asshole.
After three drops of blood, he falls asleep.
He only gets up to bite another mosquito.
He sucks and he sucks.
Inside this balloon are ten thousand mosquitoes.
 
In my left fist is a fossil of the first butterfly.
In my right fist is a theory of why blood trickles down men’s legs. 
 
A man gains a drop of blood per day from eating.
Each night, he gets up to slash himself
Across the face and wrist.
He must be bitten by ten thousand mosquitoes.
He sucks and he sucks.
Where would all that blood go otherwise?
 
Once a month, a woman drops a teacup on the floor,
A fine teacup with bones inside it.
 
Vietnamese and Germans now speak the same language.
Prussians and Bavarians cannot understand each other.

Linh Dinh, "Conversion Table" from All Around What Empties Out. Copyright © 2003 by Linh Dinh.  Reprinted by permission of Tinfish Press.

Source: All Around What Empties Out (Tinfish Press, 2003)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Linh Dinh b. 1963

Subjects Relationships, Men & Women, Friends & Enemies, Arts & Sciences, Humor & Satire, Social Commentaries, Race & Ethnicity, Gender & Sexuality

 Linh  Dinh

Biography

Linh Dinh was born in Saigon, Vietnam in 1963, came to the U.S. in 1975, and has also lived in Italy and England. He is the author of two collections of stories, Fake House (Seven Stories Press 2000) and Blood and Soap (Seven Stories Press 2004), four books of poems, All Around What Empties Out (Tinfish 2003), American Tatts (Chax 2005), Borderless Bodies (Factory School 2006) and Jam Alerts (Chax 2007), with a novel, Love Like . . .

Continue reading this biography

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.